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An Introduction to Guitar Craft (2004)
by Robert Fripp

 

I

Guitar Craft is three things:

A way to develop a relationship with the guitar;
A way to develop a relationship with music;
A way to develop a relationship with oneself.

The exact details of Guitar Craft courses are left open so each may find its own level and discover its own character. During courses we commonly work both individually and in groups, with personal meetings to focus on individual needs. We address the fundamentals of playing the guitar with a pick, rather than discussing music theory.

Courses are as intensive as the student wishes them to be and is able to accept.

Music is a benevolent presence constantly and readily available to all, but we are not constantly and readily available to music. Where there is a certain intensity of application our state can change, and at this point we may find music waiting. So, how to reach this point? The direction of attention is fundamental: little is possible without attention. Relaxation is fundamental: little is possible when we are tense. In a relaxed state with our attention engaged we begin to be sensitive to the needs of the moment. Work with attention is related to the cultivation of a sense of our personal presence, in a relaxed and alert condition.

The Introduction To Guitar Craft is open to all levels of experience, even none at all: the requirement is commitment. We ask that participants come with a clear aim, and the commitment to honor that aim. Emphasis is on how to play, rather than what to play. We address the principles underlying our practice. These principles are applicable in other areas of our lives.

The Alexander Technique has proven to be very helpful and is a feature of most Guitar Craft courses.

II

In the early years of Guitar Craft, a Level One course was itself An Introduction To Guitar Craft. The development of New Standard Tuning Weekends demonstrated Guitar Craft elements to anyone interested, and effectively served as an introduction to the Introduction. We now have distinct courses formally presented as An Introduction To Guitar Craft which serve as preparation for Level One. The recent NST Weekend in Mexico therefore served as an introduction to an Introduction to Level One. The result of these developments is a much higher standard Level One than before. Students arrive better prepared to work on the exercises, rather than to merely become acquainted with them.

Originally, we accepted everyone who arrived and were willing to accept the House Rules. Courses of 16-25 participants, all beginners, were standard. As Guitar Craft developed, students on extended courses and kitchen work joined newcomers. Major courses have now grown to 60-100 people, many of them mature and experienced.

The formal Introduction acts also as a filter. This became necessary following a number of students acting in bad faith, mainly a result of drug use. We have no problem with clueless new students (we are all relatively clueless, after all) but the drug-addled clueless are not acceptable, while prior usage is not a bar to participation in courses.

III

The first Guitar Craft course began on March 25th. 1985. There have since been well over one hundred Guitar Craft, or Guitar Craft related, courses on both coasts of the United States, England, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Norway, Switzerland, New Zealand, Japan, Argentina, Chile and Spain. Hundreds of students of many nationalities, ages and a diversity of cultural backgrounds have attended.

Extended residential courses are held in various countries for those who make an extended commitment, and on occasions a House is acquired for a period of time. The first of these was Red Lion House in Dorset, England.

Level Three and Four Courses will be held in Germany during 2004 (directed by Hernan Nunez).These follow a Level Three Course in Atlanta, USA (directed by Curt Golden) in the Autumn of 2003.

The primary centres of Guitar Craft are currently Germany, the US and Argentina, with several secondary centres of Guitar Craft and Guitar Circle activity.

IV

The League of Crafty Guitarists has been Guitar Craft's main performance ensemble since December 1985, when it toured extensively until April 1991. The LCG returned to active service in January 2002 and has both American and European formations.

The work of The LCG is to present Guitar Craft to the world and has performed throughout North America, Europe and South America, appeared on television in America, England, Spain and Argentina, and contributed to several records. A current project is to release an album drawn from live recordings of European and South American tours of 2002 and 2003. Members of the ensemble vary, but have usually been drawn from students familiar with the repertoire and who can respond to a performance challenge at short notice.

Several offshoots of The LCG and GC courses have formed performance groups that work under their own names.

Robert Fripp
Founder;
Wednesday 28th.January, 2004.

Villa Mercedes / Padres Claretianos,
Calle San Pascual Nº 3, esquina travesía San Pascual,
28 460 Los Molinos,
Madrid,
España

 

Guitar Craft House Rules:

Honour necessity; honour sufficiency.
Act from conscience.

Nothing is compulsory, but some things are necessary.

No judgements are made: we accept you as you arrive.

There is no mistake save one, the failure to learn from a mistake.

Honour the role, respect the person.

You are not asked to accept any direction that violates conscience.

You are not asked to passively accept any idea that is presented to you.
Rather, you are invited to test ideas you find surprising, to establish the veracity of those ideas, or not, for yourself.

You are encouraged to adopt a position of healthy skepticism, while participating in a spirit of goodwill.

Accept responsibility for your personal space;
and that part of the public space which you own.

Drug use is incompatible with participation in Guitar Craft.
Although nothing is compulsory, this is necessary.

If the director of the course considers that any person's continuing participation is detrimental to either that person, or the course as a whole, they may ask that person to leave.

 

Application

Accommodation is adequate, but not necessarily comfortable. We use acoustic guitars with steel strings and Guitar Craft Standard Tuning. Students should bring an acoustic instrument, metronome, guitar strap or footstool, and watch or clock. It is advised that students not play for the week preceding the course, if compatible with their prior commitments. The recommended guitar is the Ovation Shallow Body Cutaway (model no. 1867).

An Introductory Course is usually a week. The minimum age is eighteen. We recommend that the fee is raised, as much as possible, directly by those who wish to attend: this is a valuable preparation for the course and, in a sense, part of it.

 



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